This article posted on the lovely site Good.Is caught my attention today:
Want to Transform Public Education? Act Locally.
The author suggests that parents really DO make a difference in their local schools when they visit campus, get to know the staff, come to understand the problem, and get involved in solutions.
I see too many good people in Los Angeles who are afraid of our kids. They are afraid to send their kids to an unknown school. All these people really need is to be invited on to campus, take a look around, and put that fear aside. These are our children—why are people afraid?
So if you want to transform education, find a teacher who needs help. Get on to that campus. Have a simple clean up event with teachers, students, and parents all working together. Invite the village. Bring coffee. Tap into the good in people. It's there, just waiting for an invitation. They are out there, just waiting to be invited
We all tend to care much more about institutions that we have invested personal effort into maintaining. What is handed to us cost-free, even work-free, is an institution that we feel free to walk away from.
In my MEd coursework at Covenant, we read a book called Is There a Public for Public Schools? The author suggests that local school management, where parents and community members can have a greater say in the particular traditions, setup, and even moral outlook of a given school, has a much better chance of succeeding than a monolithic education policy driven from "above."
Media coverage of education makes the whole situation sound so dismal. But we really CAN make a difference in our schools. It'll cost something, of course -- the courage to know before we condemn, the willingness to invest in the lives of others, and the determination to focus on finding solutions rather than railing away at problems.